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Wine (And Beer) Trends And Prophecies

Delicious waves of perfectly ripe fruit | Roberto Viernes photos

Delicious waves of perfectly ripe fruit | Roberto Viernes photos

With 2015 knocking at our door, I thought this would be a good time to issue my predictions in wine for the upcoming year and beyond. I have peered into my crystal decanter and divined a few trends and prophecies.

• Beer drinking will take the place of wine drinking. A new age of craft beer is in full swing, and it continues to grow. With terrific beverages from all corners of the U.S. making their way to Hawaii’s shores, consumers (including wine drinkers) looking for new and interesting beverages to taste and enjoy will plop down some of their dollars to try new brews. There are lots of hand-crafted, complex and just plain deli- cious beers for consumers to drink at an average price point lower than the lower end of the spectrum for wine. Many “aspirational” and occasional drinkers will be lured by the attractive and sometimes hilarious packaging, as well as the lower entry price for great craft beers.

• California will break the $1,000 mark. California wines long have been just a cut below in price of some of the most coveted wines of France. The time will come when a California winery will launch a bottle of wine that costs $1,000 or more upon release. The First Growths of Bordeaux and Grand Crus of Burgundy have had some for a decade or more; just think of the names Petrus, Lafite and Romanee Conti. California has stood back long enough, and one or more Cult Cabernets of Napa Valley will be the first to break the barrier in the ultra-luxury segment of wine. The quality in the bottle is world-class and the quantity produced is a fraction of that made by any First Growth. It is only a matter of time.

• Red wine blends are the soup du jour. More and more brands are entering the market made of an unspecified number or identity of grapes (some may not even be red), with a name brand and catchy or kitschy label on it hoping to make its stake in the red wine blend category. They are mostly jammy, have some palpable residual sugar content and no sense of place. These are to red wine what Moscato d’ Asti is to white wine.

If it were up to me, this trend would end today. But there are plenty of drinkers who enjoy this style of wine, so it will continue. There will be an end at some point, but it will take several more years for this movement to run its course and for the pendulum to swing back to dryer wines. As an aside, many Zinfandel drinkers have gravitated toward this category as the profile is similar, shrinking Zinfandel’s share of the wine-drinking public’s attention.

• Oregon and Washington state always have taken a back seat to California in both quantity and perceived quality of wines. This is going to change. Oregon’s Pinot Gris already has held sway in the market, but its Pinot Noirs and
Chardonnays will come forward to take their rightful place in the limelight from their California counterparts. Cabernet and Merlot from Washington State are due for the same, as well. Walla Walla is truly a hot spring of foment, with new and exciting wineries already making some stellar reds that challenge the best of California. Hawaii has plenty of people who visit those areas, and they come home searching to fill the void.

Hedonistic stuff

Hedonistic stuff

Recommendations: 2012 Melville Estate Pinot Noir ($33) This is hedonistic stuff, juicy but not overripe, thick but not heavy. It is plump for Pinot Noir but not over the top. It really coats the palate in red and black fruit, with a long and warming finish. Great for duck and roasted pork, it can be found at Tamura’s Fine Wine. 2012 Robert-Denogent Pouilly Fuisse Vieilles Vignes “La Croix” ($42) This is extraordinary Pouilly Fuisse. I do not say that lightly. This wine exhibits all the hallmarks of top-class white Burgundy from the Cote d’Or, more Meursault-like than Pouilly Fuisse with delicious waves of perfectly ripe white fruit laced with vanilla, this wine is seductive and opulent at the same time.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.
rviernes@southernwine.com Twitter: @Pinotpusher